Tips to avoid too many low quality calls for "for Rent" Ad

38 Replies

Whenever we put for rent sign on the yard and the relevant junction near to the House we are planning to rent, we get too many calls asking for simple questions. These questions can be "Is the house a 3 bed, 2 bath" and what is the rent per month. For example for one of my recent ad, we received almost 50 calls within 3 days and 7 high quality calls with 3 applying at the end. I am a bit reluctant to put the rent price on the yard sign as that seems to be more "exclusive" info for the neighborhood. I am thinking of having Google voice number with voice mail that explains basic info about that house. if they are still interested, then they can leave their number. I can call them back at our own leisure. I want to know whether anybody have any other tips to reduce the low quality calls where basic questions are being asked ?

It sounds like you need a solution that requires an interested applicant to overcome a small hurdle in order get the information they want. For example, maybe on your for rent sign, you remove the phone number and add a simple brochure. The brochure will include the answers to the questions you are asked most frequently and your phone number incase they are still interested in applying. By doing this you should weed out a most of the sort of interested people because they are too lazy to stop and pick up the brochure. Then those that do call, you know will be really interested people.

Best of Luck, and if you try my solution please make sure to let me know how it goes :)


Those "low quality calls" are just part of your sales funnel. Fifty calls that turned into a new tenant sounds quite good to me. That's about what I would expect. Most of them simple want to hear the basics - rent, rooms, deposit, criteria.

I think simply answering the phone goes a long way to getting a tenant.

If you want to avoid that the solution is to hand the property over to a PM. That's a high price to pay to avoid those calls.

We attach an Information box to our rental signs where flyers can be left. However, even if folks pick these up, they still call and ask the same questions (note; one caller screened himself out when he said he didn't want to get out of his car and walk the five feet over to the sign!).

I have an answering machine attached to my home phone and develop a message giving the basic information on the house up for rent (number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, rent and security deposit requirements).


@James Kandasamy - I think your idea about the google voice number is great.

That said, I don't post signs but use craigslist. Maybe you could list a simple email address instead of or in addition to the phone number (if your market is tech savy) for them to respond to as well. ([email protected])

I get very similar results you describe with 50:7:3 via email. It saves time because I use a stock reply which tells them a bit more about the apartment, the requirement for upfront money and attach a (very thorough and strict) rental application. If they respond to your email, you know this is one of the potential tenants to move forward with. Then spend the 5 minutes on the phone with them before showing the apartment.

I've never actually put up a for rent sign. Only used online adds Craigslist, postlets & facebook.

I put all info in the add

3 bed




$150 pet deposit (no pitbulls)

$15/mo pet rent

No section 8.

Minimum income to qualify $2,700/mo.

I will still get these calls.

Do you take section 8?

I have a pitbull is that cool?

How many beds?

What's the rent?

Do you have a house for rent?

I'd like to move in I make 1,000/mo

These calls are unavoidable. They are just part of the business.

@James Kandasamy In my market if i get this many calls i would raise the rents by a few $$.

We do not get too complicated, but we write a very detailed CR ad which include 99% of all possible questions from applicant so when they call they mostly inquire about showing time (for safety reasons we will only provide that upon request) Also in CR if you have an account it does let you save your old ads. We have 4 years old ads out there in CR account that we still use.

I've seen people create a generic email addresses for the sole purpose of using it on "For Rent" signs for all inquiries -- instead of using a phone #. That way, you can set up an autoreply to go out for every email inquiry that includes ALL pertinent information about rental, with the application attached. Lookey-Loo's can get all basic questions answered, and you can include the disclaimer that "applicants must submit to credit application and criminal background check" to weed out any low-quality renters and keep them from wasting their time (AND YOURS!)

James and Shanti Kandasamy ...I let most calls go to VM and follow up. Most will not leave a message...I also run Sundays ad occasionally and answer calls Monday. Those most interested leave messages Sun.. verify with CID... tenant looking for a property bought Sunday paper on Sat(didn't even know it was in store), viewed the property, completed app..yes! was finalized by Tues....Great tenant too!!!

higher rent eliminated junk.

It's all about systems. I like the hoops and hurdles one, myself.

Create a diagram for how you want to market for your leads and how the prospects are to be channeled through your funnel.

For example:

AD > VM informs + instructs to drive-by prior > flyer/app w/Google # > fax

Everyone has their own ideas about how much they want to be involved in the marketing, qualifying and rent-up process. Decide how much you're prepared to be in it and design your system around that.

I never even post numbers on for rent signs on my rentals. If they can't use the internet to find my house I would rather avoid them; the medium itself is the first screening. If you do section 8 or seniors you may need to deal with unqualified callers

A real landlord would put a phone number in their ad and answer it when someone calls.

Joe Gore

I put a detailed ad on craigslist describing the property and amenities. I usually don't put the exact address but do have it pinpointed on the maps feature. I leave my name and list my minimum requirements. I leave clear instructions for those interested to indicate that they meet the minimum requirements and then ask any questions they might have or inquire about the showing availability.

It is telling how many people cannot follow these simple instructions and do not indicate that they meet the minimum requirements. I handle all interactions with anonymous craigslist e-mail until we have a confirmed time for a showing at which I will give my phone number and sometimes full name. I like to see how well folks follow instructions and how willing they are to follow my preferences. I think this weeds out a lot of problems but as folks have said you will still get the questions like,

"How strict are you on the whole no evictions thing?"

"I just get SSI and I'm fixing to move in there, you gonna love me, and my boyfriend pays for everything, thats cool right?"

"My pit bull is the best dog ever, sweet as can be, and she is a rescue so that is ok, right?"

" I know your ad says 1 year lease and want to start in may but would you do a six month lease (leaving me empty in december in wisconsin) if I put a deposit down today?"

Its a little tiring but where else are you gonna get such great entertainment!!

If I put a sign in the yard, I expect a lot of calls that won't be a match for the available unit. And it's OK because I enter the callers into my contacts by what type of unit they are seeking. Sometimes you pick up another property with a unit that matches so you have some prospects to call that way. It helps to accomplish one other thing - the same person calling every year or even more frequently is one you wouldn't want to accept even if you had a unit to match.

I agree with @Joe Gore . I would rather have a live person answer on the other line. What I do is HIRE A VIRTUAL ASSISTANT who answers the calls. Of course, you have to train the assistant and give him or her the details about the property.

The way I deal with it is this. I use my google voice number in my ad. In the voicemail greeting I share all relevant information about the property with final instructions to "leave a message" if you're interested. I then set the number to automatically go to voicemail and not even ring my phone.

1. Those that are just fishing won't leave a message.

2. Those that do leave a VM and they ask a question that I've already answered by the greeting DO NOT get a contact back. (They didn't listen to the VM). As mentioned above, I'm consistently amazed at how many people cannot follow simple instructions and I probably don't want them as tenants either..

3. Those that follow the instructions get a call back. Easy screening...

Hope that helps!

Completely agree with @Rick H.

My business model is a lot different now than when I first got started. At first, I used "For Rent" signs and answered the phone every time it rang. Then, I slowly found out that my time was too valuable and it was being wasting because my system was attracting too many people when I only wanted a few selective individuals.

What I did was adopt technology and use it to my advantage. Long gone are the "For Rent" signs. Now, all of my rentals are posted strictly on Craigslist. It's free and it works GREAT. My ads are descriptive and to the point. All calls go directly to voice mail and I never use my personal phone for business. Then once a day, or every other day, I sift through the calls and prioritize callers. If I am able to, I also host an open house for a couple of hours. In the end, I am a long distance investor and I have found a system that works for me.

@Sandra Roddy,

You say you let the calls go to voice mail and then you return the calls later. Now lets say when you call it go to one of the so call Google voice mail do you leave a message along with your name and number.

Joe Gore

I've not had very good luck with craigslist. You get a lot of scammers, and they persist long after the unit is rented. The upside to a sign is that you know people have actually seen the place and the neighborhood.

I've tried putting flyers out. They disappear and don't seem to help with all those basic questions. And I've tried putting a sign in the window with a bunch of details.

In my experience rent above market produces bad tenants. Price it at or a little below market and you'll have choices. Above market rents result in only getting the ones who can't find anyplace else and will put up with your high rent.

I've only gotten tenants from Craigslist, although I do use Postlets, which syndicates to other rental sites. I've gotten email and the occasional phone call from that, but no tenants. Several tenants came from Craigslist who were using realtors that weren't showing them properties they liked. Realtors call as well, but at first they act like they're tenants. Those calls are extremely brief :)

I don't use For Rent signs on our SFRs because the signs might as well say "Vacant House - Please Steal Copper". For our condos, signs aren't allowed.

I've found that very few tenants read the ad, no matter how detailed it is...and they'll say so. Read the thread "Tenant Applicants Say The Dumbest Things" for stories about the questions they ask.

I do a quick pre-screening when applicants call, and most don't get far enough to see the property. If I don't answer the phone, probably half the callers don't leave voicemail. They pre-screen themselves that way.

Thanks for all the ideas. Craigslist/Postlets does not work very well in my market even though I do use it. Postlets seems to be worst as many potential applicant just click as many rentals they want and click submit. You get default email from them. When we call them, they are so far out in them of quality. In my market the best leads come from Yard sign as many potential tenant drives around the neighborhood looking for rentals. These tenants are internet savvy as after being the house being rented they do everything else through internet. So in my market its not true that they are not tech savvy. Few of you have proposed that i use the Google Voice number so i am going to try that . Will keep this thread updated with the results.

Most tenants will think if a landlord are serious about renting they will answer the phone.

Joe Gore

No calls for me. We put a sign in the yard with a gmail address and an ad on CraigsList with all specs and plenty pics. If they email us from the yard sign we shoot them the link to the Craigslist ad. If they're on the internet we figure the odds get a little better in our favor for a reasonably intelligent human being. We encourage them to do a drive by and if they want a showing we tell them to call when THEY arrive and wait for US... we'll be there in less than ten minutes. (Learned after getting stood up for showings) I disagree fielding all those BS calls has to be a part of the process in this day and age although I guess it depends on property/neighborhood type as well.

I disagree that potential tenants expect a landlord to answer the phone. Maybe it depends on the area.. Voicemail is very much a societal institution at this point and everyone understands the purpose for it. Someone that WANTS to rent your property will pursue it. I've never had an issue finding tenants.. And one that gets their britches in a wad because I don't answer the phone like a receptionist is one I don't want..

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